Type 2 diabetes (T2D) in elderly patients is associated with accelerated loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength. However, there are few meta-analysis reviews which investigate the effects of resistance training (RT) on glycemic control and skeletal muscle in the patients.
Three electronic databases were searched (from the earliest date available to November 2016). Studies were included according to the inclusion criteria: T2D patients at least 60 years old, fasting plasma glucose of at least 7.0, and at least 8 weeks of RT.
Fifteen cohorts of eight studies (360 patients, average age 66 years) met the inclusion criteria. RT groups lowered glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) (mean ES = −0.37, 95% CI = −0.55 to −0.20, P < 0.01) but did not result in a significant effect on lean body mass (LBM) (mean ES = 0.08, 95% CI = −0.15 to 0.30, P = 0.50). Homogeneity was shown between studies regarding HbA1c and LBM (Q = 15.70, df = 9, P = 0.07 and Q = 0.12, df = 4, P = 0.998, respectively). High-intensity subgroups showed a slight tendency to improve (rather than duration, frequency, and weekly volume) and to decrease HbA1c levels more than low-intensity subgroups (P = 0.37). RT increased muscular strength (mean ES = 1.05, 95% CI = 0.26–1.84, P = 0.01). No training components explained the heterogeneity between studies with changes in muscle strength.
RT improves glycemic control and muscle strength in elderly patients with T2D. RT with high intensity can be a strategy to treat patients with T2D and sarcopenia associated with aging.